New Mapping Tools to Help Us With Our Research

The gifts continue into the new year! – and here are two more wonderful gifts!

When we are trying to find our ancestors it is all about Location Location Location – where do they live?  And then if those ancestors don’t up and move!  Why couldn’t they stay in the same parish?  What is feasible for distance?  How often do we see a well intending person add someone to an online tree simply because the name was the same.  What was it like where they lived?  You need to refer to a map and if possible a gazetteer to understand the place and their lives.

When we volunteered on the British Reference floor of the Family History Library in Salt Lake the 2 most often used resources – you could tell from the wear and tear on each page corner – were the large book  of ordinance survey maps and the set of Imperial Gazetteers – now that’s an impressive title – which gave a description of each place, its population, services and churches, and name of the parish – published about 1872.

Now most of this information is available to us online.  We have google maps, ordinance survey maps, and often historical maps available for many countries.  The Imperial Gazetteer is available at – go to search, then Card Catalog – then search for Imperial – make sure you uncheck Display Canadian records only  – and you will get links to both the Imperial Gazetteer for England and Wales and the Imperial Gazetteer for Scotland – both were written in the Victorian era.  Excellent resources!

When we teach a class about maps we always show people which is an excellent resource – a must use resource – for anyone doing research in England.  Maps, information on nearby parishes, jurisdictional terminology, such as registration district, poor law unions, and links to information at .  We always get the response “when is this going to be available for other countries?”  Your wait is over!

  1. Norway Parishes – a great new free to use web site for those with Norwegian ancestry.  Learn to use the very nice Search box on the left.  Results include some historical name information.  Don’t miss the About and More Resources menus in the upper right.  And don’t forget to give them feedback and suggestions using Contact.  Now I  wish I had Norwegian ancestors!
  2. FamilySearch Place Research – a new free to use product – Use this link as I haven’t been able to find this on either the familysearch site or in the familysearch labs.   

 What does it do? From their  purpose statement ““Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. “ Marcus Aurelius .  As time progresses places are built, destroyed, renamed or conquered. As researchers track family histories across centuries, it becomes important to track the historical context of places as well.  Place Research is a FamilySearch application which provides access to standardized information about locations. This information is used by several FamilySearch applications to assist researchers in searching for exact spellings, checking whether locations exist, as well as determining alternate name spellings/variants to expand research.  The immensity of the data being collected and cross-referenced is enormous and ever-growing. If you come across information you feel is incorrect or incomplete, please use the feedback link so we can make corrections and improve this data for future work.” 

New as it is there are already great features.  You can select with the map or the satellite view – and these are provided by Google – so think of this as Google maps with a Family History overlay.  I searched first for my troublesome Dannhausen where I think my great grandmother was born in Germany.  I got 4 results which on closer examination were 2 places because of changes of jurisdiction names.  At the bottom of the Results box there is an Export button that downloads the results to your computer as a .csv file that you can open in a spreadsheet. You can search by Name, Jurisdiction, Location, and ID number – if you’ve been there before and have the number. Clicking in the i in a blue circle next to each result gives links to the history of the place name, and research links that look for information on the place at FamilySearch.  Don’t miss the About link in the lower right and make sure you scroll down and look at the Guidelines. This is a great product that will only get better as more information is added and if we give feedback and suggestions

“Many people researching their family roots want to know more about the locations their ancestors lived. Where did they grow up? What is it like there? What does the physical landscape look like? Did they live in a city, on an island, or in the mountains? Did they live near other ancestors?” (from About on )

This entry was posted in,, Maps and Gazetteers, Research and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s